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New to computer based music - what DAC?

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subseastu's picture
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Hi all
I've decided to give computer based music ago using a Acer laptop I have going spare at home. i'll be using EAC to burn my CD's and something like Foobar for play back. Music files will be stored on an external hard drive for portability / flexability.This will be replacing an ageing NAD Cd player.

So basically i need a DAC, I've got up to £600 to spend on one so suggestions are very welcome. Also if anyone has any other ideas suggestions for my proposed set-up would be most welcome.

For information I intend to buy some Sonos gear later to provide house wide music.

Thanks.

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jjbomber's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Audiolab M-Dac, Musical Fidelity M1 DAC or Rega DAC would seem to cover it. 

Other ideas thinking outside the box would be a streamer. Choices are the Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 or a second hand Cyrus Streamline.

basshound's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

I would have a look at the Beresford DAC`s  http://www.beresford.me/main/home.html     together with an Apple Airport Express which would allow you to stream wirelessly  from your laptop and is well within buget for the two.

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relocated's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

I would keep your DAC money in your pocket.

 Use the DAC in the Sonos or AEX and see whether that is good enough for you.  It is for a great deal of people, more so the Sonos it seems.

If it doesn't suit then you could always change course and get active speakers with integral DAC, as in AVI ADM 9RS/S.  Superb sound and VFM.

beauty, eh

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subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Thanks for the replies everyone. Relocated, thank you for the idea but I'd like to keep my exsisting system as is and build of of it, so the active speaker route is not really somthing I'm interested in, the sonos will be a little later in the future as well and I want to keep it fairly basic to be honest. Maybe a 3 in the bathroom, bedroom etc.

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subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

jjbomber
Thanks for the suggestions. I was originally thinking about streamers but decided on the laptop / external hard drive route as its more flexible for me in my current situation.
I'll certainly look at your suggestions, I've also looked at Peachtree. Does anyone know / have experience of these?

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subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Basehound

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check them out. Will an apple airport express work with a non a apple laptop?

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basshound's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

subseastu wrote:

Basehound

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check them out. Will an apple airport express work with a non a apple laptop?

Yes the AE will work with non Apple gear,you connect wirelessly to the AE and then use the AE`s optical out to the DAC

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subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Does that mean you are streaming your music from the laptop via your wi-fi that is then contect to the DAC? Wouldn't that take up alot of bandwidth of your wi-fi if you want to do some down loading etc from the internet? Is there any drop in sound quality doing ti this way?

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relocated's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

subseastu wrote:

Does that mean you are streaming your music from the laptop via your wi-fi that is then contect to the DAC? Wouldn't that take up alot of bandwidth of your wi-fi if you want to do some down loading etc from the internet? Is there any drop in sound quality doing ti this way?

 

I use an Apple TV instead of the AEX but it is more or less the same in this context, although the AEX is a base station as well.

When wirelessly listening to my music there is almost always two computers being run on the net at the same time and there is no compromise to sound quality and no adverse affect on surfing etc.  

I never thought I would give up on playing cd,  but streaming via lossless into the ATV and optical out to the AVIs is SO much easier and a better listen.  As long as you rip with error correction active.

Good luck.   excellent!

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subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Thanks for the reply, thats pretty interesting. So I'm now thinking is it worth it to spend money on a DAC if an £80 airport express hooked up to my amp will do the same thing with added flexibility? Is the Dac in th AE going to be as good as one that costs say £500? I suppose I could look at getting an AE, hooking that to a DAC and then onto the amp. Would that work? Do DAC's have different sound signatures that vary widely? Or can I should I just go and get one of the award winners?

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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

AirPort Express can be very fiddly to use. I could never use mine as it always ended up dropping my Internet connection.

Check this alternative:

http://www.netgear.com/home/products/powerline-and-coax/work-and-play/XA...

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subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Thanks Big boss I'll look at that later. I've just read that using and airport express doesn't alow the transfer of FLAC files so I'm afraid thats out for me. I'm now looking at the following:

 Audiolab M-DAC

 Musical Fidelity M1 DAC

Wyred 4 Sound DAC1

Quite a spread of prices I know. Basically I want something that will compliment the sound of my K2 amp and dali speakers.I like the sound my kandy K2 amp and speakers make - slightly on the warm side of neutral with a nice balance of detail and the bass is tight but not over powering. I don't want or need big bass, that is the important factor.

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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

subseastu wrote:

Thanks for the reply, thats pretty interesting. So I'm now thinking is it worth it to spend money on a DAC if an £80 airport express hooked up to my amp will do the same thing with added flexibility? Is the Dac in th AE going to be as good as one that costs say £500? I suppose I could look at getting an AE, hooking that to a DAC and then onto the amp. Would that work? Do DAC's have different sound signatures that vary widely? Or can I should I just go and get one of the award winners?

 

Yes you can use the analog output from the AEX into you amp with a 3.5mm to RCA cable; i lived with this for a while to see how it compared to other sources and found sound quality to be pretty good. The AEX does alot for the money but using the optical out to a DAC is a step up in sound quality in my system but i would never rule it out as a DAC streamer.

Everyones diferent but my experiance with them is good, easy to set up and just work.

shooter's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

subseastu wrote:

I've just read that using and airport express doesn't alow the transfer of FLAC files so I'm afraid thats out for me.

 

You can use Airfoil for this.

http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

subseastu's picture
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RE: New to computer based music - what DAC?

Thanks for the replies. I think I'm leaning away from using an airport express. So its back to a USB dac folks and I'll probably get a Sonos bridge etc later. Any other suggestions for DAC's and their characteristics?

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